Understanding the evidence: what we know about just transition in the global south

  • Authorship
    Gemma Norrington-Davies, Agulhas Applied Knowledge
  • Article type Blog
  • Publication date 24 May 2024

A new evidence review on just transition has been published by the Green Climate Fund Independent Evaluation Unit (GCF-IEU) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), supported by Agulhas Applied Knowledge.

Whether you are new to just transition or experienced in the field, this evidence review is certainly worth a read. It provides a rigorous summary of interventions contributing to a just transition in developing countries, with a focus on energy, agriculture and food, ecosystems services and infrastructure. It explores the mechanisms, enablers and barriers to success; looking at what works, how, in what context and for whom.

This evidence review seeks to highlight learning from just transition interventions in non-Annex I[1] countries, recognising that most current evidence on just transition comes from the global north and may not be relevant to developing country contexts. Findings are based on a study of 99 interventions contributing towards a just transition in a wide range of national, regional and community settings across 45 non-Annex I countries, with learning intended to support policymakers, funders, programme designers and implementers alike. A summary of findings from the report was presented at COP 28 in Dubai – watch here if you missed it.

The review provides a set of common enablers and barriers to successful just transition, an overarching theory of change for just transition in non-Annex I countries, as well as a series of sector-specific theories of change.

Common enablers were identified for just transition interventions across all or most sectors, including the need for robust funding mechanisms, strong alignment with needs and priorities, political will and ownership, and social dialogue and stakeholder engagement. While these findings break down slightly differently by sector, they suggest some critical factors are needed to support and enable successful just transition in developing countries. Activity to outcome mapping is used to explore what types of activities lead to what types of outcomes.

The study finds that emerging approaches to just transition in developing countries recognise the need to include both climate and social elements, with both outcomes considered in interventions across all sectors.

All elements of the report have been carefully developed to help inform policy and programme design and implementation. Case studies include deeper dives into cash transfers to support fossil fuel subsidy reform in Egypt and Indonesia, India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, and forest preservation and carbon trading in the Solomon Islands. Readers can engage with the report in its entirety, or extract sector-specific findings and theories of change, according to their own interests and needs.

The Agulhas team would like to thank the GCF-IEU and ILO for the opportunity to work together on this important and timely evidence review. We hope that it becomes widely read and makes an important contribution to the field of knowledge.

End note: Just transition is a key element of the global response to climate change.  It supports the much-needed transformation towards greener, more inclusive, and more resilient societies. See here for an earlier Agulhas blog on the rise of just transition in recent years.


[1] Non-Annex 1 Parties are mostly developing countries recognised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as being especially vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change including countries with low lying coastal areas and those prone to desertification and drought). See link here.

About the author:
This blog post was originally written by Gemma Norrington-Davies from Agulhas Applied Knowledge. You can find the original article here. You can learn more about Agulhas Applied Knowledge here.

Disclaimer: This guest blog was originally produced by the authors of Agulhas on 24 May 2024. The views expressed in this guest blog are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Independent Evaluation Unit of the Green Climate Fund.